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Cof E debate around splitting ashes

Splitting Ashes and the Church of England

The good old CofE don’t really like ashes to be split, and the Catholic Church specifically prohibits it. I was speaking at a resent Church of England conference on the subject of ashes and this thorny issue was raised. From a secular point of view I never realised the extent to which this vexed the Church and whilst I am not a subscriber I do find the bible truly fascinating, arguably this book, more than any other shaped our culture. And when things have been done a certain way for generations and embedded within a culture it is difficult to shake them off (even if you wanted to).

Now I understood that the issues around the splitting of ashes was to do with the promise of resurrection, what I did not understand was quite how literally this is taken. This fundamental tenet is repeated in verse and scripture … a lot ( Hope of the resurrection) And this is incanted in verse frequently, so one can see you would have to get your thinking straight.

Now the concept of a body needing to be in one place come ‘the big day’, divides some Christian thinking (well it does between the religious people I have spoken to anyway). On one hand the doctrine is straight forward: keep the body together so that when the resurrection comes you will be brought back to life, so you better be all there – present and correct. On the other hand, a more philosophical approach is: as god is omniscient and omnipotent then physical location of the faithful should not be too big a deal. And as one clergyman said to me the church has sent the bones of the saints to the four corners of the globe and that is deemed okay…

Catholicism is much stricter. No splitting, no scattering no Ashes into Jewellery ..end of… However, I thought it was interesting to note that when the Pope issued his note on scattering etc in 2016 the church had adjusted their stance on the rationale, originally you could not scatter as this would hamper or prevent resurrection whereas now it to do with observance of tradition.

Unsurprisingly I’m all for the Omnipotent argument, but I can’t see them really listening to me…

2 thoughts on “Splitting Ashes and the Church of England

  1. Reply
    Paul Cawdron - 7th July 2018

    Am I alone in feeling that putting a video of scattering on Facebook is grossly disrespectful?.

    1. Reply
      Richard Martin - 9th July 2018

      Almost certainly not, I am certain there is a significant percentage of the population that think it is inappropriate, whether that is the majority I could not honestly say. What I do find interesting, is the increase in recording and sharing in general, people are now having funerals photographers which might seem inappropriate to many. This coupled with social media’s impact on culture exposes huge variances in how we approach memorialisation. Whilst I probably would choose not to do it, I would not wish my view to make anyone else feel inhibited in how they express their grief. We are all unique and see the world a different way, as long they are not preventing anyone else from their enjoying their lives I prefer not be didactic in my stance.

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